SEATTLE — As recently as July 15, the Seattle Sounders were 11 points out of a playoff position. Following their 2-1 win over Western Conference-leading FC Dallas on Sunday, that gap is down to three points with a game-in-hand on sixth-place Real Salt Lake.
The latest victory looked a lot like most of the previous four during what is now a five-game winning streak and the seven previous games in what is now an eight-game unbeaten run: It wasn’t necessarily pretty but it was effective.
Chad Marshall’s glancing header off a Nicolas Lodeiro corner gave the Sounders a first-half lead. Lodeiro then put the Sounders back ahead to stay on a free kick that Jesse Gonzalez misplayed.
For their part, Dallas didn’t do much in terms of chance creation and the quality of the Sounders’ goals aside, it was another reasonably comfortable result.
The first time Brad Smith got a chance to run, he put on a bit of a show. He raced ahead of the Dallas defense and then, just as importantly, put in a cross that would have likely resulted in a goal if not for some quality last-ditch defending by Dallas.
Marshall’s goal came on the Sounders’ 10th corner of the first half — they’d end up with a team-record 11 by the end of the first 45 minutes. He barely seemed to touch the ball, but it was enough.
Just a textbook Chad Marshall goal. pic.twitter.com/1ILdJrrGlT— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 13, 2018
Dallas’ goal came on the one time they looked truly dangerous. Maxi Urruti had a great touch to control it in the penalty area and then pushed it out to Michael Barrios on the wing. Barrios’ cross was a bit high, but Dominque Badji managed to chest it past Stefan Frei.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Lodeiro whipped in what looked like a dangerous free kick. Although it didn’t find a Sounders head, it did find the net while Gonzalez was rooted to his line. It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it counted all the same and gave Lodeiro five goals in his past six games.
What a goal. Surely he meant to do that. pic.twitter.com/WgnDkMabHY— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 13, 2018
The game took a turn for the weird in stoppage time. That’s when Ted Unkel showed Reto Ziegler a red card for apparently hitting Raúl Ruidíaz twice in the head. Ziegler seemed to be retaliated for Ruidíaz flinging his head back — or head butting him, depending on your perspective.
Ziegler hits Ruidiaz not once, but twice. Deserved sending off. pic.twitter.com/HgWn5BU72Y— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 13, 2018
From there, the situation only seemed to escalate. Cristian Roldan suffered a couple hard fouls as the Sounders tried to run out the clock in the corner, prompting Unkel to blow the game dead exactly at four minutes of stoppage time that featured almost no actual game play. Players and coaches then had to be separated from one another near midfield while walking off the pitch.
Five straight wins
- The five-game winning streak ties a franchise record. Just as impressive, the Sounders have gained 20 points during this eight-game unbeaten run, which also ties the best eight-game run in franchise history.
Man on fire
- Lodeiro isn’t really known as a goal-scorer, but he’s on quite a run right now. His free kick may not have been intended as a shot, but good things happen when you put balls in dangerous places and that’s what he did.
- Brad Smith didn’t complete any of his four crosses, but he consistently put them into dangerous places and nearly connected on a couple. More than that, he showed some impressive speed and never looked remotely overmatched on defense. We will likely be seeing a lot more of him this year.
- Ziegler deserved his red, but it did look like he was retaliating to Ruidíaz throwing his head back. Considering Josef Martinez’s head butt of Marshall a few weeks ago seemed far more purposeful and was not punished, I’d be a little surprised to see Ruidíaz suspended here. But we’ll likely have some nervous moments as we await a final decision ahead of what is shaping up as a huge game against the LA Galaxy next week.
- Unkel is going to be criticized for blowing the game dead when he did, but I don’t think he’d have needed to if he had done a better job of enforcing space on the free kicks and corner kick that had just happened or had given a yellow card on either of the hard fouls Roldan suffered in the corner. Hell, if he’d given Ruidíaz a yellow that likely would have calmed some of the emotions as well.
41’ Marshall (Lodeiro)
52’ Badji (Berrios, Urruti)
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Smith, Marshall, Kee-hee, Leerdam; Alonso, Svensson; Shipp, Lodeiro, Roldan; Ruidiaz.
FC Dallas (4-4-2): Gonzalez; Ziegler, Hedges, Pedroso, Cannon; Gruezo, Ulloa; Lamah, Berrios; Urruit, Badji.
Man of the Match
Man of the Match vs. FC Dallas
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